Heading towards something new

I wrote this from the train headed towards Scott. It’s a long train ride, almost 5 hours. I would be happier if I didn’t have a migraine.

I have vacillated a bit over what I’m feeling. I want to believe I’m excited to see him but it doesn’t quite feel like excitement. At least, not the kind I’m used to. This isn’t white hot burning butterflies out of control excitement. This is new. I honestly don’t know what to call it. It’s a good feeling. Sort of like knowing what a good meal is going to taste like, comforting.

I am looking forward to being with him for an extended amount of time. I have no doubt we will have fun. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be comfortable. I don’t worry that he will pressure me to behave or do anything I don’t want to do, he won’t even have an expectation. Or, perhaps if he does, he probably won’t let it show. His entire goal will be my pleasure and comfort over the next week.

You heard that right – one week. I knew I was going to need to see Scott on his home turf to begin to understand if this relationship would have legs. I knew we needed some time that wasn’t feeling like vacation time. The opportunity presented itself and I took it.

We will be spending a few days at his home and then a few days in Washington DC. We are running The Virtual Chicago half marathon together on Saturday. This is a good example of how far he’s willing to go for me – the half marathon was something I wanted to do for myself because I needed some focus to pull myself up from a spiraling depression. When he heard I was doing it, he wanted to join me. He is a sincere athlete and will have to hold way back to run with me, but it’s all he wants to do – to do this together and share the experience. I admit, when he said he wanted to do it with me I was really pleased. Then he suggested we run it around the National Mall in DC and, while I’m terrified to run outside (because I just don’t), I love the idea of being somewhere so iconic to mark my first half and being with someone who is going to derive as much joy (and pain) from the experience as I will.

I wish I was the kind of hyper excited I used to get before seeing Tony or Bobby. I wish I felt those butterflies. Once in a while there is a little twinge of something, I wouldn’t call it the butterflies, but it is something. I know without a doubt I will be happy around him – the question remains: is that enough for me? Is it enough for anyone? I just don’t know.

I still consider the fact we are from different socioeconomic classes. I’ve been doing a LOT of reading about that and it’s well written about that it’s a pretty difficult struggle for most couple to overcome this kind of hurdle. I knew I wasn’t imagining things when I feel this way. Socioeconomic diversity is a real thing and a thing that can cause either partner to be unhappy for different reasons. The only way I am going to determine if this is a real-world challenge or a just an in-my-head challenge is to spend time with Scott, especially on his home turf.

I will also be meeting his 24 year old daughter. She is the light in his life and he’s so excited for me to meet her. She’s so happy for him that she’s excited to meet me as well. I think it’s strange and sweet all at the same time. It will be a first for me. They have a very tight relationship. She is lacking a mother figure and I think he sees what kind of influence I could be on his daughter. I don’t feel pressure right now because I don’t know what I want in this relationship other than for us both to enjoy one another.

He went crazy cleaning his house and food shopping for me. His daughter has cats and boy do I hate cats – so there was a big effort in his part to remove all signs of cat hair from the place. I am terrified of all cats so I hope his daughter doesn’t think it’s “cute” to let the cats out of the basement. That won’t go over well for anyone. When someone comes to my home, of course I prepare in much the same way but I have a feeling my home starts in a bit more organized place than his does. He’s been a bachelor for a few years and I know he doesn’t like it. He often hints how he doesn’t bother with things at home because he just assumes his “woman” is going to want to change things. In a way, he’s quite compliant to the traditional roles of man/woman in a relationship which is, in its own way, charming. I like this, it works well for me. He will always care for me.

We started talking about love languages but didn’t get too far other than retaking the quiz and sharing results. I was surprised that acts of service wasn’t his first or second love language as he often comments about the lack of what others have done before me. His top love language is quality time followed by physical touch and then acts of service. Interestingly enough, words of affirmation fell off the top of my list for the first time ever. I suspect this is because I’ve learned to affirm myself in so many ways. I realize I don’t need as much from a partner though I still love to hear it. Also, Scott says so much positive affirmation for me that I find it a little unbelievable. I can’t recall if Tony did it this much or not. I don’t think so. I actually wish he would pull back on the compliments a little so that they felt a little more true. My face, hair, outfit or whatever can’t be perfect every single time but that’s pretty much what he says if I so much as self-flagellate. My traditional go to moniker is usually “handsome” when I’m attracted to someone and I find myself holding this back with him and I feel pretty crappy about it. It doesn’t ring true to me. Little things like this tend to occupy my thoughts when I’m away from him. I’m really trying not to let them consume my thoughts.

In between this nonsense I am happy to be heading his way. As I get closer I am starting to feel a little excitement and I know when I see the happiness on his face I will respond in kind. I know we will have fun, laugh, be silly and enjoy one another. I feel like we can be friends together. I know this is all a great start.

I am so confused …. (part 3)

I think I got most of it all down and out now.

There are more good qualities than challenges with Scott if I was counting. I’m just not sure how the weighted average works out.

After we went away for the weekend and I agonized for a while as well as solicited advice from friends. I dug deep into what I was feeling and tried to explore why I was so predisposed to these thoughts and feelings. I came up with some answers and on some I’m still empty handed.

And it may surprise some of you …. but I firmly decided I was going to give it a go with Scott.

I just needed to wrap my mind around it. I was clear of the potential pitfalls but all of my friends, and I do mean all, unanimously voted for Scott. They know all of the struggles I’ve had and continue to go through and just felt that I deserved someone who adored me with no questions asked. And he does. He really takes me for who I am. Perhaps if there was one quality above all that I treasured in Tony it was this one. Scott has exactly the same quality.

He takes me for who I am knowing I struggle with his job/income and the stereotypes assigned to government work. He doesn’t know about the attraction piece, though we have talked about the disparity in class briefly. He acknowledges we started in very different places and have had significantly different life experiences. He treats me as if I am a prize that he never thought he would win and often seems to be in awe of me.

He has already told me he would move heaven and earth for me if I would just let him.

Scott is a good man. He tells me he has a mean streak that he doesn’t like about himself and I see that coming out as arrogance right now, but I believe him when he tells me, I just haven’t seen it. I can tell his defenses are down around me and I am allowing mine to begin to come down as well. Once I make up my mind about something, I go all in.

I do worry that I’m not always so nice and I can be a bitter pill to take. He seems good at deflecting this quality in me and it tends to have me loosen my reigns – which is very unusual for me. He doesn’t dig in in opposition to me but instead tries to offer alternative viewpoints without pressing me. My need to be right all the time is much less aggressive with Scott and this is unique. A little example of this is when we were walking along on our way to lunch on our weekend away, I stopped suddenly and said “we are going the wrong way!” He said he was pretty sure we were not. As per my usual always-right self I declared “I really think it’s the wrong way!” He asked me to trust him and I looked at him and rather than insist yet again, I just said “ok.” The funny thing was it stopped him in his tracks and he worried that now I would give it to him if he was wrong. I promised him I wouldn’t, that I did trust him and even if he was wrong it was just a little walk on a beautiful day and didn’t really matter. I meant it too. I handed over the reins. I let go. And, of course, he was right. He was also very relieved which was quite funny.

That was the first time I really put my trust in him. The next time was the long ride home in my car. He drove and I was able to fall asleep for a little bit. That’s a sure sign of trust with me. He told me much later how happy this made him because his x-wife and his x-affair partner both hated his driving. I know these are two very little things, but they are important to me. When I don’t need to be in control and I can let go I am happier. I know this for a fact after Bobby and Tony, but it takes a special person to get me to change my behavior. I don’t give up being right all that easily.

I can’t change the job/income situation and have to work towards complete acceptance, and I am trying. I know I’m a snob when it comes to this and part of that is the by-product of living in a wealthy area. Going backwards in income was never a welcome thought before now. I am truly unsure where this lands for me so we will have to see. In an early relationship, this has no bearing so I’m letting it go.

I hold out hope that I will become more physically attracted to Scott. I can’t force this so it’s another thing I’m letting go of. Sex has improved. Our sexual cadence is much, much slower than when I’m very attracted to a man and he doesn’t push me. I only hope he doesn’t feel like I’m not attracted to him. I don’t want him to feel this from me.

After the weekend away and my subsequent decision to give it a real shot with Scott, he came to spend 3 days at my home. We went to a winery one day and the next day we did a bunch of nothing together. He was thrilled I watched football with him and asked a lot of questions about his favorite team (until I fell asleep on his chest!). I made him breakfast and lunch and I think he enjoyed being waited on a little. I don’t think he’s gotten very much positive attention in his life and I get the impression he’s always been the giver. I like to be able to do these small acts of service for Scott because I know how much he appreciates them. We had a fabulous dinner out over the weekend and there’s no shortage of laughter and easy flowing conversation. It really does feel natural with no pretense.

So that’s two long weekends in a month in which things consistently improve. I’d say that’s a win in itself. We text often every day now and talk most nights. A relationship is beginning to form in its own way.

New things I’ve begun to notice and I’m trying to work through:

If I like it, he wants to like it right away too. While this is great, I want someone who maintains their own identity. I decided to run a half marathon and he immediately chose to run it with me. I like a certain type of music and he wants to listen to it all the time with me. I like wine and he will drink it with me. I like shellfish and he will eat it with me. None of this is bad, I just don’t want him morphing into what he thinks is the perfect man for me simply to attract me.

He compliments me constantly. Nothing is ever wrong with me (except he thinks I’m snobby too, who wouldn’t). Again, not sure what I think about this. Of course I want to be all the things to him but it falls flat when every word out of his mouth is how beautiful and special and amazing I am. Again, not really a negative but for some reason it’s overkill?

The last piece: I notice he doesn’t really ask me a lot of open ended questions. He is very in tune to me and pays attention, but he doesn’t seem to try and get to know the way my mind works. Rather, he goes for the outward things like my favorite food, wine, exercise (he joined Peloton because of me) or music. These things he nails because he watches me closely. Tony dug around. He asked about my family, my past, my education, why I liked some things and not others, what I dreamed of, what my sorrows were. Scott seems to be focused on how to please me. He often notes that I ask him a lot of questions and some of them make him uncomfortable to be so vulnerable but he likes opening up to me. But he doesn’t really come up with his own questions. I’m not sure how much this matters right now, we all move at different speeds and Tony’s matched mine exactly in that respect. I think Scott wants to to reveal myself in my own time without his prompting. This has actually made me realize I may not tell him everything (I can actually thanks George for that lesson in fact). Maybe he doesn’t need to buy the cow just to get the milk. I’m not exactly sure what I think of this but there’s a part of me that’s glad he isn’t probing further since I’m not ready to be that far into relationship with him when I’m still tenuous in some respects.

Maybe my reticence is because I may still have walls up. Maybe it’s self-sabotage. I don’t really know. He wants to please me so badly it’s amazing to me, but maybe I don’t want to feel like I’m continuously taking advantage of his crush on me. I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I do feel a certain amount of reticence for an unclear reason.

Next week I will head down to his house for almost a week. With the distance between us (and the cost that brings) it forces longer visits and I think it’s worth seeing Scott in his own surroundings. He’s super excited I offered to come to him and wants me to meet his adult daughter. I have no doubt we will have a great time and I’m looking forward to having more continuous time with him. We will have a mini weekend getaway as well as we’ve decided to run our half marathon around the National Mall in DC. That was his idea and, as hard as it is to impress me, he really doesn’t fall short in this area.

Maybe my lesson is about finding balance. I’m certain there is a lesson in here with Scott. I’ve got a good thing I intend to let run it’s natural course with no preconceived notion of duration or “what’s next.” I’m opening myself up to this pretty great guy and seeing where it takes me.

So there it is, the whole Scott story in a big word dump.

I don’t know what’s next but I can tell you I’m looking forward to seeing him and spending an extended amount of time with him next week and I’m happy to take it slowly for once.

I Enjoy Dating Myself: When a Sense of Humor is a Requirement on a Date

Here’s a big lesson I’ve learned: I know how to date myself and I have to say, I’m a pretty fun date. I bring laughter to any date. Even the ones where I’m watching paint dry.

I’ve selected one too many men that check lots of boxes but continue to miss a critical one – the funny box. I’ve tried one too many times to date a guy who just isn’t funny and I am always let down.

What baffles me the most is that everyone, and I do mean everyone, says laughter is important. Yet so few men can really illicit a belly laugh from me. I mean, they don’t even seem to try. But I can keep them rolling on the floor with my stories. I’m so good at a funny story that I can entertain myself. After all, I already know all the punchlines. I can carry an entire date. And that, my friends, is how I’ve made many mistakes. I want the laughter so badly that I sometimes ignore I’m laughing at myself.

I can also talk to a wall. Now, this is a learned behavior after years and years of corporate training presenting to large groups. I can talk about anything long enough to engage the party I’m speaking to. When I’m at work I know how to read the room. Similarly, I can also read each man I pre-screen yet I ignore the fact he doesn’t make me laugh. Why? Maybe because I used to believe some people need time to warm up. If that’s the case, I’ve now also realized that person probably isn’t for me. I know for certain I need a more gregarious man. A man who can be funny right from text. And it happens often enough so I know it’s very possible.

Funny without sexual innuendo. Funny without sarcasm. Funny without low brow humor. Just the right turn of phrase or words to put a smile on my face. Sometimes taking something I just said and gently teasing. Sometimes self deprecating. But funny comes across in text despite what anyone claims to the contrary. If it’s there, in text then it follows in the phone conversation in spades. It also follows that the date will be filled with laughter as well.

When I look back, this has 100% accuracy for me. It doesn’t mean every date is a success or the man is a match. But if he’s funny from text and phone he will be able to make me laugh in person despite if I am attracted to him or not. Scott is funny. Even though I’m not attracted to him I still laugh with him often. He is just funny. George is funny. Even though we never met, he can get a solid laugh from me through text and on the phone. Mike, Dan, Tony etc all very funny men. My x, while his humor is mostly unappealing to me in my maturity, is still very funny. Thinking back to the first man I slept with, Dan, he made me cry with laughter – and still does to this day when he reaches out.

I have to stop dating men I don’t find funny. I have to stop giving them way to long to crack a joke and make me laugh.

I’ve really been debating my own list of requirements as I grow older and think I’ve tried enough to let this one slide. Laughter has become a non-negotiable. I believe I’m so lonely I’ve allowed some of those other check boxes to take the place of this one but I know I can’t live without laughing hysterically the rest of my life. I don’t want to keep dating myself. I want to date someone who is funny. Period.